Scrolling through photos on my phone during lockdown I realised three things about myself.
One, I spent a lot of time in France last year. And two, I really had some great red wine with oysters.
It has been drummed into me since day one of wine life: oysters are for white or sparkling wine. Wouldn’t red wine be overkill for the delicate oyster?
Or, the other way around – the oyster would be too brutally metallic for the red wine?
But wait. Hold on. It’s not as if I’m a huge adherent to wine and food pairing rules. Or even, rules full stop.
Three Red Wines to Pair with Oysters
In my mind I could physically feel the combination painfully jar. Like the sensation of chewing down on a piece of aluminium foil. Or licking the end of a live battery. A dull metallic buzz.
But it is so much more. I’m so grateful to the woman at the oyster bar in Paris who thrust this in my hand.
The secret to wine pairing is to match the acidity to the food. Plump oysters are not acidic and are cradled in briny sea water. The “minerality” is the key to matching red wine with oysters. The best red wines to match with oysters are light-bodied, earthy rather than fruity, and from cooler climates (with higher acidity).
1. Loire Pinot Noir or Gamay with oysters
One thing I love about going to Paris is the abundance of Loire wines in bistros and restaurants, especially natural wines. The light bodied, funky glouglou is perfect to wash down with a dozen oysters.
Beaujolais, rather than Loire, is usually more known as the home of Gamay and some of the more natural styles will also work well.
2. Jura Poulsard or Trousseau with oysters
There may not be many oyster beds to be found in the mountains of Jura in eastern France, but the light red natural wines are perfect friends with oysters.
3. Chilled reds from outside France
This is a wild card, but I encourage you to experiment. Take a light-bodied, or even a medium-bodied red and put it in the fridge until the dew forms on the bottle. There are no hard and fast rules. Try Teroldego from Italy, Bobal or Mencia from Spain, Cinsault from South Africa or Lebanon. Pinot Noir from Californian or light Italian grapes all the rage in Australia.
And the third thing from lockdown? Those photos on my phone only make me long for a restaurant, a holiday, a platter of oysters and a good bottle of wine.
Where to go for oysters in Paris
Régis is a tiny oyster bar in Paris with only 14 seats and no reservations. The restaurant sources its oysters from around France and serves them raw, chilled and briny.
They concentrate on oysters with deep connections with oyster farmers from Marennes-Oléron, alongside daily cheeses and dessert. Despite its small size, the restaurant has garnered local fame for its friendly and welcoming owners – making it a pleasant place to stop in for an oyster or two.
This restaurant is popular among locals as well as tourists looking to get in on the popular local secret near Mabillon metro station (between St Germain-des-Pres and Odeon).
If you love oysters, this is the place for you. We had a small conversation with the owner. Not only were we inspired by the red wine with oysters, but one year later we ended up visiting an oyster farm on their recommendation.
The restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere and the oysters are fresh. The best part? You’ll get to pick your own oysters each time since there are so many different choices.
3 rue de Montfaucon 75006 Paris
Monday to Friday 12 to 2.30pm and 6.30 to 10.30pm
Saturday 12 to 10.45pm
Sunday 12 to 10pm